There is no question that the words we speak matter. They matter a lot. But do they have the power to create miracles?
I am not talking about the power of God's Word to create miracles. That's a given. I am not even talking about the miracle-working power of God in answer to prayer. That too is a given. Instead, I am talking about a special ability within man to speak things into reality.
Can man really speak miracles into existence simply by declaring whatever he wants to see happen?
At his recent stadium event in New York City, Joel Osteen invited a group of prominent pastors to speak "positive declarations" because he believes man's declarations are able to create miracles. You know, the kind of miracles we tend to think only God can create.
One of the pastors on stage said, "We declare the supernatural favor of God over your finances." Another said, "We declare a prosperity miracle upon your life and your pastor." And other pastors made declarations covering a whole range of personal, family and community needs. But can "declaring" something you desire, no matter how noble, actually make it come true?
It's a seductive thought. It's like having your own little genie in a bottle, and you control the genie by the words you say. Speak words of health and wealth, and the genie magically grants you the specifics of your declaration. Actually, you are granting yourself the things you want by choosing to declare it in faith. Just believe it as you speak it into reality.
So I guess that makes you the genie. Hmm.
Too good to be true? Well, that assumes it is a "good" concept in the first place. Surely Jesus must have taught His disciples how to "declare" things into existence.
That is, if this special method of attaining health and wealth is really something the Lord wants us to be attempting.
The closest thing we see in the New Testament to believers "declaring miracles" might be when the disciples cast demons out of people. (see Luke 10:17 and Acts 5:16) Of course these miracles were only happening by the power of God in the name of Jesus. But nowhere does Jesus ever tell his disciples to "declare" their way to financial riches. Instead, Jesus warned His disciples about lusting for more money. Our Lord made it clear that man cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24-25)
Rather than teaching His disciples to "speak into existence" a boatload of material possessions for themselves, Jesus regularly told them just the opposite. That's because true faith seeks first the kingdom of God, and the Lord provides for our needs as we rely upon Him to meet them. (Matthew 6:26-33)
Joel Osteen has unfortunately been deeply influenced by the "Word-Faith Movement." At the core of the Word-Faith teaching is this idea that man has the ability to create his own health and wealth by the words he speaks. This is not something taught in Scripture, but this doctrine certainly appeals to man's natural desire to gain an abundance of financial riches.
Osteen writes, "If you are struggling financially, remind yourself repeatedly, "I am the head and I am not the tail. I will lend and I will not borrow. Everything I touch will prosper and succeed." Joel goes on to write, "Something supernatural happens when you speak those words aloud." Oh really? Supernatural?
In the Bible, God speaks and things are created. God said, "Let there be light, and there was light." (Genesis 1:3) God speaks and miracles happen. God speaks and man is blessed when he believes what God says. God is the speaker. Man is the hearer and the receiver. God is the Creator. Man is the created being.
In the Word-Faith Movement, man seems to rise above being a mere mortal. He ascends to a realm where he has godlike abilities in the words of his tongue. He can speak things into existence, or so say the "prophets of declaration" and the "genie in a bottle" salesmen.
Don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting that every person who has ever dabbled with this dangerous teaching is completely separated from Christ. I believe a number of genuine believers have become entangled with this tempting approach to personal wealth. But the deeper you get into this teaching, the more you perceive your "faith" to be a way to "get more things" rather than a way to humbly love and serve your Savior and others.
The most "successful" preachers of the Word-Faith doctrine would point to their mansions and their luxury cars as evidence that their "faith" actually "works" in the "real world." But this "evidence" and their teaching looks nothing like the faith taught on the pages of the New Testament. The Bible actually warns us about those "who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain." (1 Timothy 6:5) Could it be any clearer than that?
I have always found it interesting that these "prosperity preachers" don't have the "faith" to "sell your possessions and give to the poor" as Jesus taught. (Matthew 19:21) Wouldn't that be the sign of great faith, rather than pouring those millions into mansions, cars and planes for yourself? The answer is obvious. It takes biblical faith to give it away, but only greed to store it up for your own pleasure. Rather than proving their message to be true, the lifestyles of the rich and famous prosperity preachers reveal the fruit of their teaching as well as their deepest desires. It's plain to see what is in their heart by what they choose to keep for themselves.
In actuality, it "works" for these famous preachers because thousands of people continue to send their organization $20 or more a month in hopes of winning what is essentially a "religious lottery." The leaders are building their mansions and buying their luxury automobiles because people who can't afford to do so are sending their "seed money" for these "Word-Faith lottery tickets." You see it's not only at your local gas stations where the lottery produces a strong addiction based on a fantasy to "hit the big one."
It is one thing to pray, believe, and trust God for miracles. It is another thing altogether to think your words have the power to produce miracles. God's Word has that power, but your words are not the same as God's Word. And you are not the same as God. Not by a long shot.
When you declare the good news of the Gospel, that's one thing. There is power in that soul-saving message. Miracle-working power. When you declare the Word of God, there is miraculous power there too.
But your words? Your declarations?
"I declare that I have lots of money in my bank account." "I declare that my broken relationship with my loved one is healed." "I declare that the illness in my body is gone." And so on. It's called "positive confession." Say it and believe it strongly enough and your words will make it happen.
What does it say about you when God sovereignly decides not to respond it the way that you would like him to? Are you questioning your "faith?" Don't be fooled. Remember the thorn in Paul's flesh? When God decided not to grant Paul's request, how did Paul, a champion in the faith, respond? His words, that "God's grace is sufficient," were truly a positive confession.
So don't buy the "lottery tickets" the prosperity preachers are selling. Trust Christ alone, and know that He is God in the flesh. Believe in the power of Scripture. And pray about issues as you bring them to the Lord in daily prayer. But don't make the mistake of thinking your declarations miraculously "come true" as long as you "speak them out loud in faith."
Jesus already worked the greatest miracle for you at the cross. So find your peace and joy there, and in the perfect Word of God, rather than in trying to declare miracles into existence. Leave the miracles up to God. He is the One who can actually pull them off.